I don’t know how many months it’s been since I started taking meds for ADHD… six months, maybe? More? But even through the tritation period, it was like someone hit a master switch in my brain, and everything’s been whirring along happily ever since.
I! Could! Get! Shit! Done! Even when I didn’t want to! I could focus! and concentrate! and read an entire page of text the first time I tried! I was sticking to projects and following them through to the end! I was staying present for conversations, or at least noticing and acknowledging when I was spacing out and then telling people I spaced out and could they repeat what they just said, please? My anxiety was down! I was able to harness my creative upswings and start writing again! When we last went on vacation, I arranged the dog’s boarding, set up mail-hold service, and reserved car service to the airport IMMEDIATELY AFTER I BOUGHT THE TICKETS FOR OUR FLIGHT!
No big deal, right? Well, it is for me. I’d normally set a hundred reminders over the course of a few weeks, which I’d snooze and reset repeatedly so that I was perpetually stressed out and obsessing over these tasks that I just couldn’t DO and check off my list. (Does that sound stupid? Congratuations, you don’t have ADHD. Yay, you.)
With Adderall, I’d been consistently productive and exercising every day and getting tasks done before they even got as far as a to-do list.
All the jerks who think we ADHD-ers are “lucky” to have prescriptions cause you want to be “crazy productive,” too… I’m flipping you off right now. I’m telling you I’ve been crazy productive but like… “crazy productive” for me. What I call “crazy productive,” the rest of you just call normal life. Normal productive.
And I honestly didn’t realize how much I was struggling and swimming upstream until I’ve had these past few months to compare it to. I forgot to take my Adderall XR once, after several months. ONCE. And hoo-boy. Now that I have something to compare myself with… my day without Adderall is not pretty.
But now I’ve been in Shelter-in-Place for a couple weeks, and I thought I was doing alright. I mean, we’re really freakin’ fortunate. I occasionally get bored, but don’t we all? I didn’t think it was affecting me much, psychologically. But in the last couple weeks, I’ve made jokes about Adderall being no match for a pandemic. I might as well not be taking it for all the good it’s doing me right now. Because I have a tendency to dismiss myself and play a pretty strong game of avoidance, it didn’t occur to me that I may be way more affected by all of this than I thought. I didn’t think it was worth asking for a higher dose of Adderall because, I said, “It’s just the nature of the beast. This is a stressful time. The end.” But my therapist informed me that yeah, people who take low doses of Adderall are fine in low stress situations, but big things like this (QUARANTIIIIIIIIIINE, ISOLATION, SHELTER-IN-PLACE, PEOPLE) are certainly going to push the limits of a medication’s abilities. So I should absolutely ask my prescriber to bump it up a little, even if temporarily.
Done and done.
And while there’s nothing more obnoxious than people saying, “Everyone’s got a little ADHD” (no, they fucking don’t), it is true that maybe some of you are experiencing what it’s like to just not be able to get started on things or to stay focused or find that an entire day has blown by and you can’t even remember what you’ve done all day. Stress will do that. Feeling overwhelmed and can’t focus? Yup.
Welcome to my permanent world! Except that most people (people who do not have ADHD) can, at some point, suck it up and get stuff done. Not me. Not unless there’s an imminent deadline (like, that 1,000-word essay needs to be done in half an hour) or if I’m afraid of someone being really angry at me… or worse, disappointed.
And forget doing anything I want to do, just for myself.
I could write you a list of all the things I coulda shoulda woulda been doing today or this week, but a list of responsibilities is no fun. Instead, here are things I’ve found myself doing as my brain rebels against all the things:
organized the three hundred and forty-eight “Saved for Later” items in my Amazon cart into one of my thirty-two wishlists (oh, wait, I’m still doing this…)
removed all the books I started to read but didn’t (or can’t or won’t) finish on my Goodreads “Currently Reading” list
from Goodreads, I clicked on a favorite author’s “Read” shelf and added everything she gave a three or four star rating to on my “To-Read” shelf
ate about fifteen Lindor truffles
started filling out three dog rescue applications during a one-and-a-half-hour conference call with a client
changed the colors on my website several times (which I tend to do often when what I really mean to do is write)
wrote out the list of monthly bills on two separate sheets of paper (because the first one wasn’t tidy enough)
stared out the window in my office long enough for Spotify to get through seven songs before I realized I had spaced out
went to my room to do a short round of yoga but got distracted when I went to the bathroom, and wound up looking at towel hooks on Amazon for ten minutes
started looking for new pastry recipes, then decided I needed to lay off the pastries for a week or two so I went to PressedJuicery.com and put a bunch of green juice in my cart before remembering I think juice is stupid and never wind up drinking it all so I closed the browser tab and started looking for Russian bookstores online
set myself a reminder to email my nurse practicioner about upping my Adderall dosage (Yes, I set reminders instead of doing things.)
attempted to close one of the thirty-two browser tabs that I have open in Chrome (which is actually a LOW number for me) but realized that I can’t because they all have things I *need* to remember
set a reminder to cancel and appointment
set a reminder to go through all the reminders I’ve ignored in the last two weeks (This one sounds like I’m being funny, but I’M NOT.)
set a fifth reminder to finish editing the eight essays I need get done this week
promised my kid I’d play Mario Kart with him “in half an hour”… three hours ago
forgot why I walked into a room at least four times
swore I’d get the dog out for a walk by two p.m. (It’s now five-thirty.)
You get the picture? That’s all in the span of a few hours, and by the way, this is how my days always were pre-Adderall.
The difference with Adderall (when it’s woooooorking) is that these things still come up, but I can catch them and choose to stop. Before Adderall/after CORONAVIRUS, there’s just no stopping this procrastination train. (I don’t even see it coming.)
This post has was written over the course of three days. The thing about ADHD is that starting things is hard. Once you get going, in the middle, it’s fine. Then wrapping up and finishing things is almost impossible. Like I said. This post. It’s been sitting here for the last day and a half because writing a pretty little concluding paragraph… it’s just not happening. This happens a lot, and most of the things I write never see the light of day. So maybe I’ll just… choose to let it go this time. It is what it is.